The second day of Fargo 2017 added Junior men’s freestyle to the madness. With the Cadet tournament down to 16 wrestlers per bracket to start the day, the business end was at hand. That meant that while the Juniors were whittling down the list of potential All-Americans, the Cadets were finalizing medal match showdowns. There was a lot going on.
Ferrari races into the finals
It isn’t easy to walk into the FargoDome for the first time and work your way into the finals, but that is exactly what AJ Ferrari did on Sunday. After a relatively simple opening day, the sophomore to be from Allen, Texas was pushed twice, first by Patrick Kennedy (Minnesota) in the quarters and then by Gerrit Nijenhuis (Pennsylvania) in a tense semi-final. We caught up with Ferrari after his semifinal victory to discuss it.
Manville and Amos cement their star status
Perhaps the two most recognizable names entering the Cadet tournament belonged to Carson Manville (Minnesota) and Braxton Amos (West Virginia). Manville has been a sensation, considering he hasn’t yet entered high school, rolling through the Pan American Championships last week to cap a year where he thrust himself into the national consciousness. Amos revealed himself last summer in this very arena, crushing the field on his way to double stop signs at 195. Both men were heavy favorites coming in and have lived up to the hype. The two have ended every match victorious by tech-fall with a combined score of 122-5. All but two of their matches have been shutouts. As they head to the finals tomorrow, both look head and shoulders above their competition. Don’t expect anything different in Greco.
The stars aren’t the only ones dominating
The 88-pound bracket isn’t as big as some of the others, leaving competitors at that weight waiting around in the early parts of the tournament. However, when Drake Ayala (Iowa) finally did get on the mat, he didn’t hang around very long. His four matches have lasted a total of 159 seconds, all culminating in 10-0 techs. He’ll face Chance Lamer (Oregon) in the finals. Joshua Saunders (Missouri) has also been untouchable, outscoring his opposition 62-1 in his six bouts, setting up a clash with Ryan Franco (California) for a stop sign. Aidan Medora (Wisconsin) hasn’t been dominant on the scoreboard but ran through a gauntlet that included Victor Voinovich (Ohio), Ryan Wheeler (Washington), and Frankie Tal-Shahar (Florida) just to reach the title match. His reward? A date with Carson Manville.
Escalera makes history for Kentucky
In the history of the Fargo tournament, Kentucky had seen just one of their own become a finalist and never a Cadet. That changed Sunday when Zeke Escalera (Kentucky) knocked off Cullan Schriever (Iowa), 9-7, in the semi-finals. Escalera’s sixth win of the tournament put him into the history books, but he’ll want to win one more. Thanks to Jason Bryant for confirming Kentucky’s finalist history. Escalera was a Kentucky state champion this season before winning a Southeast Regional title at 113. He wrestles for the stop sign at 106 tomorrow.
Juniors off to a strong start
From the opening round which featured #14 Gabe Tagg (Ohio) squaring off with Patrick Glory (New Jersey) the top ranked 120 in the nation, the Junior event provided intrigue, but the top contenders largely went unscathed on their opening day. Glory stormed back from a 6-0 deficit to take the lead before getting a fall. Patrick McKee (Minnesota) survived a scare in the first round at the same weight, scoring three points in the final minute to earn the win in a 14-13 thriller. He advanced to the round of 16 from there. Jacob Warner (Illinois) returned from Russia, looking massive at 195 pounds. He wasn’t perfect in either of his victories, but his dominance of Bear Hughes (Oklahoma), a tough competitor that is headed for Oklahoma State, underscored how good he is. There is plenty left to do on the Junior side. The meat of the tournament is coming tomorrow.